Best Accessible Water Spots In Arizona

water spot in arizona

We aren’t close to saying we have been to all of the water spots or watering holes in Arizona. However, we’ve curated a list of the ones we have been to that are reasonably accessible, meaning no advanced or expensive permit is required. Our list includes Arizona lakes, rivers, and creeks! Some spots are far from the Phoenix area and great for extended getaways, while others are closer and easier for shorter or day trips. Before heading out on the water please remember to be water smart and Leave No Trace.

Water safety

Swimming Spots

Lake Powell

Lake Powell water spot

Lake Powell is on the Arizona/Utah border. It’s a great spot to cool off in the summer! The city of Page and the surrounding area still gets hot in the summer, but the nation’s 2nd largest reservoir has plenty to offer. Here you can swim in the lake, rent different types of boats, jetski, kayak, and fish.

If you’re interested in our weekend trip to Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, check out on our blog post on it here.

Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu is very hot in the summer, but you can cool off on the lake by renting a boat, swimming, or renting a jetski.

We rented a jetski and took it down the Colorado River. It was a great time! If you are interested in our trip to Lake Havasu you can find out post on it here.

For park entrance fees check out the State Parks website here.

Lake Havasu

Saguaro Lake and Canyon Lake

We haven’t explored Canyon Lake but we have hiked near it! We have kayaked on Saguaro Lake. Please keep in mind that it is VERY hot here in the summer. Being on the water is a great way to cool off, but be sure to wear proper sun protection and stay hydrated. If you’re interested in kayaking on Saguaro Lake you can check our our reel on it here. There is a recreation fee to use Saguaro Lake & Canyon Lake, but you can also use your America The Beautiful Pass. Both lakes are part of the Salt River. There are day use Lower Salt River recreation spots south of Saguaro Lake.

Roper Lake

Roper Lake, Arizona

Roper Lake State Park sits at the base of Mount Graham. This lake is popular for fishing, kayaking, and other water activities. There is a designated area to swim too.

For park entrance fees & hours please check the AZ State Parks website.

Gila Box

We only had a short visit here, but you are able to get in the water. Canoeing, kayaking, and rafting enthusiasts take advantage of the spring runoff to enjoy an easy to moderately difficult floating adventure down the Gila. Many people also float the river in inflatable kayaks during the low water of the summer. There is no fee for this area.

We recommend checking out Gila Box Riparian BLM website for more information.

Gila Box Water Spot

Patagonia Lake

Patagonia Lake, Arizona

Located in Southern Arizona, Patagonia Lake is a popular and beautiful State Park.

We visited in the winter so we weren’t able to do any water activities, but this lake is popular for boating, kayaking, and fishing! For more information visit Patagonia State Park.

Wet Beaver Creek

This is a very popular swimming hole and can get crowded. There is also a hike to get to this spot! We recommend wearing the proper footwear, bringing more water than you think you need (at least a gallon), and wearing sun protection!

The hike is 3.5+ miles to “The Crack” about 7.8 miles overall. For more information check out our blog post on it here.

Wet Beaver Creek Water Spot

Lake Mary

Lake Mary, Arizona

We actually haven’t recreated on this lake before, but it is a popular lake for water sports when the lake is deep enough. You are able to swim here as well! This long, narrow reservoir is especially popular with power boaters and water skiers because there is no motor size limit on it. Fees are required at the developed day-use sites during the high-use season, generally mid-April through mid-October.

For more information you can check out Coconino National Forest website here.

Slide Rock State Park

Slide Rock State Park is a very popular area in the summer and can get VERY busy. The parking lot can only fit so many people and there will be a line to get into the park as the day goes on. For more information we recommend checking out Slide Rock State Parks website here.

Slide Rock State Park Water Spot
Other Lakes To Consider
  • Roosevelt Lake (Globe, AZ)
  • Apache Lake (Apache Junction, AZ)
  • Lake Pleasant (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Alamo Lake State Park (Western Arizona)
  • Lyman Lake State Park (St. Johns, AZ)
  • Lake Mead (Kingman, AZ)
  • Lake Mohave (Colorado River, AZ)

Lakes To Recreate On

Watson Lake

Watson Lake, Arizona

This is a popular lake in the Prescott area. You are not allowed to swim in this lake, but it is still a nice way to cool off as Prescott is about 5 to 10 degrees cooler than Phoenix. For more information check out our blog post on kayaking here.

Fools Hollow Lake

For park entrance fees please check the AZ State Parks website. There is an approved outfitter providing lakeside canoe and kayak rentals in the summer.

Only boats with maximum 10 H.P. gasoline engines are allowed on the lake and fishing is allowed. Additionally, there are restrooms and shower facilities.

Fool Hollow Lake, Arizona

Willow Lake

Willow Lake, Arizona

Willow Lake is a popular lake for fishing north of Payson. Please remember to pack out what you pack in. There is no trash service. When we visited we picked up a ton of trash.

Boats with motors up to 10 hp are permitted on this lake. There is no fee for day use or to launch a boat. An Arizona State fishing license is required to fish this lake. 

While you are able to swim in the water here there are no sandy areas to get into the water. We recommend either paddle boarding or kayaking on the water. For more information check out the forest service website here.

Knoll Lake

Knoll Lake is a great way to escape the Phoenix heat! Motorized boats are allowed and have to have a single electric motor.

While you are able to swim in the water here there are no sandy areas to get into the water. We recommend either paddle boarding or kayaking on the water. For more information we recommend checking out the forest service website here.

Knoll Lake, Arizona

Bear Lake

Bear Lake, Arizona

Bear Lake is a popular area north of Payson. While you are able to swim in the water here there are no sandy areas to get into the water. We recommend either paddle boarding or kayaking on the water.  Boat motors are restricted to electric motors only. There are NO trash services. Please pack out what you pack in!

For more information we recommend checking out the forest service website here.

Goldwater Lake

Goldwater Lake is beautifully nestled in the mountain side among the ponderosa pines in Prescott.

We rented a tandem kayak through Born To Be Wild Adventures. Prices: Single seat kayak & SUP: $25/day Tandem kayak & canoe: $50/day Pedal boats, $75 for 1-3 hours, seats four

Goldwater Lake is a city park and there is a $3/vehicle park entrance fee. No Swimming at Goldwater Lake. Fishing is allowed with proper license. There are picnic tables and restrooms at the park

Hikes With Water

Summer is monsoon season! Please keep that in mind while hiking. Afternoon showers are common near the Mogollon Rim and can cause flash flooding at popular watering holes. Flash floods can happen even if it isn’t raining where you are! Check the weather in the surrounding area too.

Fossil Springs via Bob Bear Trail

You NEED a permit to hike this & it must be displayed in your car dash. You also need to carry a permit with you at all times. You can get a permit at under Bob Bear Trailhead

We hiked Bob Bear Trail to Fossil Creek Dam from the Strawberry side. We hiked 8.7 miles out and back with over 1500 ft in elevation gain coming out of the canyon. The hike out is HARD. Please hike smart! We tried to avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day and finished around 1:20pm. Sturdy shoes are a must!

We each brought 3 Liters + a water bottle. We both drank 3 Liters

Water Wheel Falls

This hike is very popular! We started our hike at 8:30am. It is 1.6 miles out and back to the main water fall. Please be sure to check the weather before hiking this trail! Flash floods are common in this area and can be dangerous.

There is a fee to park at the trailhead. We used our America The Beautiful pass.

Dogs are allowed but must be kept on leash.

West Fork Trail

This is a popular hike and the parking lot is small. Be prepared to have to park on the street

There is a $12 drive in fee and a $3 walk in fee

It’s 3 miles to the Narrows section of the canyon. After this point the trail isn’t maintained and your feet will get wet. Overall, we hiked 8 miles out and back

The water is cold! We brought our Salomon water shoes for the narrows section of the hike. You will have to submerge your feet into water

Check the water before hiking! Hiking after a lot of rain or during can be dangerous. Flash floods are common!

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